Apr 24, 2014
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Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

Don't Let the Clock Steal Your Farm's Future

Apr 22, 2014

Clock Face  From Legacy Moment (04.18.2014).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.


When a person is in their early 20s, the future is a long way off. It's merely a concept, not an inevitable reality! Then--surprise, surprise--that same person is sitting at 60 looking back, wondering what happened and where did it all go?

For both the young and the mature, the clock is a thief. In youth, the moments pass slowly and the tick-tock rhythm of the clock lulls you into complacency. As you age, the minutes mock your plans and tempt you with busy activities that make you believe that getting something done is better than doing the right things.

It doesn't matter how old you are, when you start or what your objectives are, time waits for no one. If you want to accomplish something, achieve some level of success, or reach a goal, do it now. Clearly define your objectives, write a plan of action, implement the plan, measure your progress, and adjust accordingly based on your results. Time is a finite resource; in fact, it's the only one that is absolutely limited.

So it's incumbent on us to do the very best we can with the time we have. If passing the operation from one generation to the next is a lifetime goal, don't hesitate--start today, where you are right now.

  • Schedule a family meeting. Whether it's a first for the family or the next in a series, communication is a key to planning for succession.
  • Learn about succession. The Farm Journal Legacy Project has an archive of tools, information, and resources to help you achieve success--check it out.
  • Find help. You can't go it alone, especially early on. Every person in the family needs to actively participate in the process and a person cannot be both a participant and facilitator.
  • Take an assessment. Are you and your family ready for the process? If you're unsure, the best way to find out may be to take a quick assessment, and then share your answers with each other.
  • Talk with others who may share their experiences. Though not a spectator's event, succession should never be done in a vacuum either. Swapping stories and sharing solutions is a healthy and effective way to deal with the challenges of planning for succession. 


News & Resources for You:


Looking for some basics? Take a few minutes to browse our Legacy Project FAQs.

Ready to take the first steps? Sign up to attend a Legacy Project Workshop.

Eager to settle on specific goals for your farm, family and future? It all begins with A Series of Simple Decisions (eLegacyConnect self-assessment).

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Reasons to Plan

Apr 15, 2014

Teen girls with calf   USDA NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (04.11.2014).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.


As an advisor to family business owners, I know success is no accident and failure is never the intent. So what happens, and why do most businesses fail in the transition from one generation to the next? What keeps an owner--one who has weathered the storm, risked it all year after year, tied it together with baling wire during the lean times, and stood his or her ground no matter what--from facing the inevitable and planning for the unavoidable?
 
Succession is the next challenge; it is what separates the good from the great, the committed from the indifferent. A well-executed plan for succession is the difference between success and significance.
 
Here are a few good reasons to plan for succession:
 
1. You want the farm to remain in the family.
2. You want a smooth ownership transition.
3. You want to provide opportunities for future generations.
4. You want to provide fair and equitable distributions to your heirs.
5. You and your dependents need financial security.
6. You don't want to pay the estate tax.
7. You don't want your farm converted to non-farm use.
8. You don't want your land farmed by an ever-larger neighbor.
9. You want the farm to continue as a testament to your hard work.
10. You care about the farm and those who are dependent on the operation.
 
If you're planning, take a couple of minutes to let me know how it's going. If you're not, please let me know what we can do to help. Write to Ask Kevin. The Farm Journal Legacy Project is an excellent resource for you to get started.


News & Resources for You:

Tomorrow, the duty to run the farm may fall to sons, daughters and/or employees. Are they ready to lead? 

Take the critical first steps in starting your succession plan by attending a Farm Journal Legacy Project workshop.
 
eLegacyConnect allows connected members of the farm community to address  questions and share experiences in real-time.
 
Wishing all the best of Easter to you and yours!
 

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 Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.
 
 

 

I Don't Think a Plan is Necessary If...

Apr 08, 2014

iStock For Sale FarmFrom Legacy Moment (04.04.2014).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.


No doubt about it, planning for succession is a big job. It requires a lot of commitment. It may cost money and there's no guarantee it will work as you intend.

So, why plan? To be blunt, it really isn't necessary if:

  • You don't want the farm to remain in the family.
  • You prefer that your family fight over the spoils after you're gone.
  • You don't care about the farm and those who are dependent on the operation.
  • You think your family will prefer liquidation to settle your estate.
  • You assume your neighbors are better farmers than your descendants.
  • You don't want a smooth ownership transition.
  • You don't want fair distributions; you prefer equal as prescribed by the state.
  • You and your dependents don't need financial security.
  • You want to pay your full-proportionate share of estate taxes.
  • You don't mind if your farm is converted to non-farm use.
  • You don't mind if your land is farmed by an ever-larger neighbor.
  • You hope the highest bid is a testament to your hard work.
  • You don't want to provide opportunities for future generations.

The hard truth of planning for succession is this: it's not necessary if you and your descendants prefer the family farm ends on your watch.

 

News & Resources for You:

Ready to kick-start your plan? Online registration is open now for Legacy Project Workshops in Syracuse, N.Y.; Omaha, Neb.; Moline, Ill.; and Austin, Minn.

You're not alone. Too many people procrastinate when it comes to succession planning, citing "unique circumstances."

Are you inclined to forge ahead briskly, or are you more the cautious, reluctant type? Gain insight into your natural tendencies with this quick eLegacyConnect assessment.

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Do You Want to Solve It?

Apr 02, 2014

iStock Green FarmFrom Legacy Moment (03.28.2014).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.


It's become my go-to question. I have a number of consultations each week with farmers and active family members who contact me via Ask Kevin, email or phone call. As part of the conversations, I sound out each caller about their intent and measure their level of determination. Recently, I've been bluntly asking:

"Do you want to solve it [your succession puzzle]?"

Often that question is met with silence and hesitation, and then a response, "Of course." Well if you do, like most of my callers, I encourage you to jump in with both feet. Commit to the succession planning process and take the steps necessary to achieve success.

"But how?" you might ask.

Begin with Conversation Starters, a six-question worksheet designed to get the family talking about their succession desires. Schedule a family meeting and create an agenda based on your intents and the input of those who may attend. From there, you should be prepared to discuss a comprehensive succession planning model. Your plan should include provisions for: ownership transition, leadership development, financial security and estate taxes.

Some people want to know how long the planning process will take. Frankly, it doesn't really matter. From commitment stems a desire to start making the changes necessary to achieve multigenerational success. So if you really want to solve it, commit today.

The Farm Journal Legacy Project provides the information, tools, and resources you need to get started. Rally the family and solicit their interest; it will be one of the most gratifying conversations of your life. And, be confident you won't go it alone. We're here to encourage, guide and assist.

News & Resources for You:

Please note: The Legacy Project Workshop in Syracuse, N.Y., has now been rescheduled for Monday, June 16. Also, registration is now open for events in NE, IL, and MN. Register online here, or call Farm Journal Events at (877) 482-7203. 

No matter what you call it, how long it takes or how difficult it might be to initiate, succession is a must.

The goal is an operation that will endow the family for generations to come.  

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Growing It Forward

Apr 01, 2014

From Legacy Moment (03.21.2014).
Attema FamilyPlease join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.


As an ag exchange student, Menno was attracted by the wide-open spaces and plentiful opportunities. Now, 30+ years later, he faces a new set of challenges. He and his wife, Jeanne Ann, have four children who have expressed an interest in following in their parents' footsteps. Though an enviable problem, it speaks to the need for good communication and a plan for succession.

Both Menno and Jeanne Ann descended from farm families, so engaging in the process has been a natural extension of melding together family and business. Their collective experience (Menno as a farming professional who weathered the 1980s as a beginner, floods and droughts throughout his career, and Jeanne Ann as a teacher) have allowed them to start the process with constructive family meetings.

When the conversation comes around to succession, experience tells us most farmers:

• Know what they want to achieve
• Are prepared to have constructive conversations
• Have tried some form of planning

Yet for some reason, progress stalls. Maybe it's an unanticipated problem, time constraints, seasonal workloads or just a lack of commitment. Don't give up.

If you missed the latest episode of "Leave a Legacy" TV, you can view it online now, to learn more about the Attemas and their efforts to keep the family in farming and 'Grow it Forward!'

News & Resources for You:

Catch up on archived episodes of "Leave a Legacy" TV for more farm family profiles.

When it's time to talk about succession, sharing these questions in advance can help family members consider their succession goals and communicate them.

Wondering about eLegacyConnect? Start with our FAQ overview.

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Photo courtesy of the Attema family.
 
 
 

 

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